History shapes itself into eras, ages of time classified according to cultural exercise. The thing to realize is that these sections of life – The Reformation, The Renaissance, etc. – don’t have defined boundaries. Each era bleeds into the other, making it virtually impossible to identify the point of cultural shift. No matter where historians place the defining mark, however, we can pretty much bet each movement started much earlier than its labeled timeframe, somewhere around the time that people began wondering why their way of life just didn’t seem to work anymore.
Even though we may not possess an exact classification outside the terribly generic and vague post-modern age, I believe we are at the brink of a new era. Former ways of living are collapsing under the weight of today’s realities – realities including the following:
– Drug addiction affects 67% of American families
– 40% of Americans have close friends or family members who are gay or lesbian.
– The average age of marriage in America is 26.5 for women and 28.7 for men, several years beyond the age of sexual maturity.
– 23% of American children live in poverty, the number one indicator of academic struggle and subsequent failures.
The tension we feel in our culture is the result of this age attempting to address these realities outside of the methods used in the past. Before we jump to the oft ascribed solution of returning to the past, however, we might consider if that is even possible. Going back as an answer houses a foundational flaw, the assumption that all variables present in the past still exist in the present, something we all know is not the case. So, before we judge this present age too harshly, we might entertain the possibility that it nurtures no disdain for the ways of the past; it just can’t afford to ignore the above realities for the sake of heritage.
So, with that said, we must stop mourning the methods of the past and start living Christ in our current context. And I don’t mean living out a Christ who wields condemnation as the answer to today’s realities; I’m speaking of one who models a life worth living, one that sacrifices self for the good of others, one who is not only willing but desires to walk with people who have lost hope and guide them into a Peace that transcends ages and realities.
I’m suggesting that today’s church rise up to its calling and remember that Christ’s mission does not end with building a church; it is to inhabit a church that builds the kingdom of God in this age, our age. No one can do that but us – starting with me, starting with you…